Schools: The Front Row Union Rugby Rankings Week 3.
In a great game at Osborne Park, Methodist College defeated RBAI pushing them back into 1st position and the home side back down into 2nd. Elsewhere in the top-ten, Sullivan Upper (4th), Ballymena Academy (5th), Ballyclare HS (8th) and RS Armagh (9th) all improved their position this week after wins against some of the stronger opposition on offer this year. Wallace HS (6th) and Down HS (10th) were two of these opponents, dropping two and four places respectively but remaining in the top-ten.
There is little movement at mid-table, but Belfast High (19th) have improved by three places after their impressive win against Friends’ SL (18th) who sit just above them. Coleraine AI (21st) will also be glad to have seen a win over the weekend given recent results; their victory moves them up four from 25th.
Important fixtures for this weekend (Sat 27th Oct):
RBAI v RS Armagh: Inst will wish to bounce back straight away from last week’s defeat but may find it difficult against a resurgent Armagh side
Wellington College v Antrim GS: Traditionally a 1st Round Cup game, both sides will want a win to kick-start their season
|Rank||Team||Win %||Opponent Rating||Score||Form||Previous Position|
|13||Belfast Royal Academy||0.500||0.508||367||0.569||13|
|17||Foyle & L’Derry College||0.571||0.427||293||0.481||17|
To help understand these changes and the ranking system in general, we’ve provided a few questions and answers below that should help to make things clearer:
What is the point of the ranking system?
This system was mainly designed so that every one of the 32 teams involved with Ulster Schools’ 1stXV rugby could be ranked using the data available, without the need for every team to have played against every other.
How is the ranking calculated for each team?
The three biggest factors taken into account are each team’s win percentage (number of wins, draws, and losses), opponent rating (the strength of sides faced) and competitive rating (their progression within the various competitions), alongside penalties for inactivity which prevent less active schools being ranked higher than they deserve. The formula produces a score for each team using these factors which then allows us to rank them in order from 1 to 32.
Are points/tries for/against taken into account?
Presently, no, and probably not in the near future for two main reasons: firstly, with a lack of scoreboards at matches, fans (and indeed coaches/players) often argue over the exact score of each match, so they are difficult to confirm; secondly, the margin of victory/defeat often has to do with the opponent played, which is already taken into consideration in the calculation.
Hey, my team defeated that one! Shouldn’t we be above them?
Not necessarily: the ranking for each team is based on the season as a whole, not a head-to-head basis, so often teams can be ranked below those which they have beaten. Don’t worry though, if you’re truly better than they are it will show eventually!
What does the percentage score of each team actually represent?
The decimal score assigned to each team represents a calculated estimation of that team’s ability. To put it another way, if every team played every other in a full season, the score is what win percentage would expected of each team, given the data available. This is why team’s percentages change week-on-week even if they haven’t played; it is dependent on the performance of every other team.
So, has scoring changed in the new system?
Yes and no: the original scoring is retained but has been renamed to be understood as measure of form. However, each team now receives a second score per week as a measure of performance. This second rating is simply a number between 0 to approx. 1000; the higher the number the better the performance. This second scoring system, unlike the first, allows teams to be compared week-on-week and even season-on season as the same score in any two weeks represents the exact same level of performance.
Is opponent strength now calculated any differently?
The new formula has been updated to better reflect the opponent strength faced by each team. Originally, an average was taken across the season as a whole up to that point, whereas now the average is calculated using the strength of opponent dependant on how strong they were when they actually played the team in question. This leads to a more accurate representation of a team’s performance and stops the situation whereby a team could see their performance improved/downgraded without actually playing that week.
Have any other changes been made?
Penalties for inactivity are still included but now accumulate from week to week if a school does not take part. This will help to prevent schools sitting higher in the table for an extended period as sometimes happened with the original system.
How are these numbers used to rank the teams?
Teams are placed in order firstly by score then by competitive rating, form and finally, opponent strength. If there is still a tie at this point other factors such as head-to-head record, competitive match-ups and inactivity penalties may be taken into account, but it is unlikely that this would be needed, and this has so far proven to be the case.